Public Emergency Alarm and Response System

Published:  22 August, 2014

White Paper urges the adoption of fire detection and alarm systems for transmitting public alert messages and calls for an international standard to be developed.

The association of European manufacturers of the electronic fire safety and security industry (Euralarm) has published a white paper on PEARS (Public Emergency Alarm and Response System).

The white paper was initiated due to the increasing challenges governments across Europe are facing when it comes to mastering crisis situations caused by natural catastrophes, manmade disasters or criminal and terroristic attacks. The question on how to alert the population in the affected area quickly, reliably and effectively has gained importance in the previous years. New methods of alarming the population are necessary, because of urbanization and outdated technologies.

The European Union and several member states have started testing new methods. The most common methods use cell broadcast messages to mobile phones. This is an easy to implement method, which however has big issues because, according to a study of the UK government, only approx. 30 to 40% of the persons reached read the messages directly. Another concern related to the testing of new methods is the lack of coordination between countries. The various methods are not compatible, which prevents messages from crossing borders.

Euralarm urges the European Union and all national stakeholders to cooperate and share experiences, and proposes the following actions:

· Integrate as many channels as possible.

· Integrate existing systems, including domestic systems connected to Monitoring Stations.

· Use standardizations to make cross-border systems compatible.

To download a copy of the White Paper, click here;

Executive Summary, PEARS: Public Emergency Alarm and Response System Enabling Building Fire Safety and Security Systems for Public Alert:

Governments across Europe since years are facing an additional challenge when it comes to master crisis situation caused by natural catastrophes, manmade disasters or criminal and terroristic attacks - the question on how to alert the population in the affected area quickly, reliably and effectively!

In today’s environment, characterized by growing urbanization, a mobile and multicultural population and the dismantling of the old WW2-sirens, in combination with the growing use of social networks, new methods of alarming the potentially endangered population are necessary.

The European Union, but also many Member States, have started with tests and trials to explore new methods on how to reach the highest percentage of people the shortest possible time. SMS or cell broadcast messages to mobile phones are the more obvious methods which comes to our minds. This is tested in several countries. What seem to be an easy to implement and secure method to reach a large portion of the population, has big issues if we consider that only 30% of the people reached seem to read the message immediately.

Unfortunately, in Europe, these tests are pursued in a not very coordinated way country by country. The public alert systems of the various countries are not compatible and in case a message has to be sent cross border ad-hoc coordination is necessary!

Euralarm, as the leading European trade association for electronic fire safety and security systems with its long experience in alarm management, proposes the following actions to increase the effectiveness of public alert scenarios:

 • Integrate as many channels as possible in public alert concepts. Mobile phones are only one possibility. Use also e.g. GPS based navigation systems, TV channels, Internet, etc..

 • Integrate existing fire safety and security systems as an additional channel. Since already ten thousands of systems are installed the cost to build-up a channel is minimal.

 • Domestic smoke detectors and security systems connected to Monitoring Stations are existing, 24h active channels to millions of private homes.

 • Use standardization to create public alert systems which are compatible cross border and can alert the population on both sides of the border in case of an event.

Therefore Euralarm urges the European Union and all national stakeholders involved in developing public alert systems, to cooperate and share experiences, in order to safe costs in developing, deploying and maintaining the systems. Since unfortunately catastrophes do not stop at the border between two member states, standardization is the key to create a truly European Public Alert System and Euralarm is calling upon CEN / CENELC and the European Union to support the industry in developing appropriate standards. 

  • Operation Florian

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